Traffic woes fuel view the business has never been harder

Think business has never been harder? You’re not alone in that conviction. Almost half (43 percent) of restaurateurs view current market conditions as the toughest they’ve faced in their careers.

Another 36 percent expressed a belief that business conditions are more difficult today than they were at the end of the Great Recession.

A recent survey of operators by Restaurant Business also underscored that insufficient traffic is the most pressing current problem, outscoring sales, labor issues and heightened service expectations on the pain meter.

Maintaining current guest counts was ranked at the high end of the difficulty spectrum by 46 percent of respondents, and increasing traffic was rated as difficult or extraordinarily difficult by 77 percent.

A fourth (24 percent) of the respondents said their targeted customers were visiting less often, 19 percent noted that patrons spend less when they do dine out, and 43 percent reported that customers are pay more attention today to the prices of what they order.

When the restaurateur-respondents were asked what business boon they would conjure if they could have a single wave of a magic wand, 37 percent said “higher traffic.” About 32 percent said “lower food costs,” while 25 percent cited “lower labor costs” and just 4 percent opted for a lower rent or mortgage payment.

The research was based on surveys of a representative sampling of Restaurant Business readers.


Customers are ...

Visiting less often24 percent
Visiting more often8.3 percent
Spending less when they visit19.2 percent
Spending more when they visit5.3 percent
Being more careful about their spending43 percent


If you could have only one of the following profit boosters, what would it be?

Higher guest traffic37 percent
Higher sales per guest13 percent
Lower food costs31 percent
Lower labor costs15 percent
Lower real estate costs4 percent


What is your Number One business challenge?

Building traffic36 percent
Building sales24 percent
Raising guest service quality19 percent
Other21 percent


In regard to traffic, which of these is more difficult? Please check only one.

Attracting new customers75 percent
Increasing visits by current customers25 percent



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